Important Protests and Riots That Changed the World Forever

The Black Power Salute, 1968 Olympics

19. The Black Power Salute, 1968 Olympics

On October 16, 1968, during the medal ceremony at the Olympic Stadium in Mexico City, Tommie Smith and John Carlos – two African American athletes – having won the gold and bronze medals, respectively, raised their black-gloved fists and bowed their heads during the US anthem.

The subsequent impact of this gesture sent waves across the United States, with Smith and Carlos facing death threats and racial abuse. For Smith and Carlos, this silent gesture was a human rights form of protesting against racial injustice back home. It was taken as a sign of Black Power (due to a similar iconographic salute).

Smith later stated, “If I win, I American, not a Black American… We are black and proud of being black”.

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